April 20, 2021

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Editorial: Alaska talks highlight the difficulty of resetting bilateral relations between China and the United States


s previously expected, no major statement was made after the China-US talks in Anchorage, Alaska. (AFP)

this is the first time that the Biden administration has learned about China's "wolf war diplomacy" style, and it has also broken any illusions that China-US relations may be reset.

The first China-US high-level talks after U.S. President Biden took office were held in Anchorage, Alaska. The scene was full of gunpowder. The two sides were tit-for-tat on issues such as human rights, trade, and international alliances. How long the media reporters were present, and the length of the opening remarks quarreled with each other.

The high-level meeting held two rounds of dialogue on the afternoon of the 18th, and the third round on the morning of the 19th. Both sides had to show a tough attitude to their respective nationals and the international community. In addition, before the talks, both sides had actually released some signals. Therefore, most observers do not hold high expectations for the talks.

However, the unconcealed and high profile of China and the United States with sharp contradictions still surprised the outside world. It is conceivable that the two sides continued to quarrel in three dialogues in two days, and as expected, the first face-to-face high-level talks between China and the United States failed to achieve a breakthrough.

The Washington Post said that this is the first time that the Biden administration has learned about China’s “wolf war diplomacy” style, and it has also broken any illusions that China-US relations may be reset. It is expected that the Biden administration will continue to take a tough stance against China, and the Chinese government will never succumb to pressure from the United State.

The international community has seen that the top leaders of China and the United States have adhered to their non-concessional positions on issues such as trade, science and technology, and human rights. The outside world’s expectations that this contact will pave the way for follow-up talks are shattered. The two sides will have to compete for a while.

In his opening remarks, Yang Jiechi, member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and director of the Office of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission, warned the United States not to interfere in China’s internal affairs and criticized the United States for abusing the so-called concept of national security to hinder normal trade exchanges and inciting some countries to attack China. Yang Jiechi responded strongly to the U.S.’s talk of China’s internal affairs and human rights. “You are not qualified to say in front of China that you are talking to China from a position of strength… Chinese people don’t like this.”

The U.S. Secretary of State Blincoln bluntly stated at the meeting that matters involving Xinjiang, Hong Kong, and Taiwan are not just China’s internal affairs. The United States is deeply concerned about China’s measures on Xinjiang, Hong Kong, and Taiwan-related matters, as well as cyber attacks on the United States. , To take economic coercive measures against allies, these actions will threaten the maintenance of global stability, rules-based international order.

The blunt rebuttals from the hot scenes and non-existent speeches reflected that both sides are testing each other’s reality, determination and endurance. The prospects for the re-establishment of bilateral relations between China and the United States are not optimistic, and the hope that both sides will reach a substantive consensus in the future is even slimmer.

Earlier, US media reported that Beijing originally hoped that through this high-level meeting, U.S. President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping would hold a video summit during the International Climate Change Conference on World Earth Day on April 22, but the two heads of state held talks. But it was not included in the agenda of the talks. During the high-level Sino-US dialogue, they only elaborated their respective positions and used bottom-testing and negotiation tactics. In view of the complexity of Sino-US relations and the surging undercurrents, they will continue to say their own things.

On the eve of the Alaska talks, high-level US officials visited their Asian allies and issued a strong joint statement with their allies against China. Before the talks, Brinken also made a strong statement, denying that the dialogue is a “strategic dialogue” and does not guarantee that the two sides will have a follow-up meeting. He also emphasized that no joint statement will be issued after the meeting. At the press conference after the Alaska talks, Brinken once again called on allies to unite to counter China’s actions to undermine regional security and stability.

Although Wang Yi said that in the past few years, Sino-US relations have encountered unprecedented serious difficulties, which have harmed the interests of the two peoples and harmed the stability and development of the world. They should not continue. However, senior US officials emphasized that the Alaska talks were only “one time.” Whether there will be follow-up talks depends on what China “does, not what it says.” It is a matter of concern whether high-level China and the United States will meet again in the future.

After the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the United States, the US’s policy of engagement with China has withdrawn from the stage of history due to the drastic changes in the international situation and the rise of China. China and the United States need to form a new strategic discourse to define and manage bilateral relations. The battle for military hegemony and the direct confrontation launched during Trump’s tenure have seriously deteriorated the perception of each other between the two sides, making it even more difficult for the two countries to reset their relations.

The Sino-US talks highlighted the deep-rooted differences and contradictions between the two countries. In the face of complex internal and external political factors, when can China and the United States take the first step to untie the deadlock, try to rebuild mutual trust and cooperation, and negotiate a new mode of exchange. Need to go through difficult adjustments, and the international community must not have excessive expectations and illusions.

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